Rep. Rob Wittman urges Navy to adjust communication on shipbuilding plans

Specific focus on funding the future fleet
Ships in Formation
Posted at 9:01 AM, Jan 07, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Representative Rob Wittman says the Navy needs a "communication adjustment" when it comes to pitching their plan for the future force to Congress.

The Republican, who represents Virginia's First Congressional District and is the ranking member on the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, conveyed that message in an op-ed publish in The Hill last month.

In it, Wittman calls on Navy leadership to "readjust their strategic communications message and highlight the basic portions of their message that Congress has been begging the administration to adopt for the last several years," and adds "whether or not this revisioning of the Navy’s force structure is going to survive first contact with Congress deeply depends on their ability to course correct their message."

In an interview with News 3 anchor Todd Corillo, Wittman echoed the call for the communications adjustment.

"I think it's critical that they communicate this most recent 30-year shipbuilding plan and let folks know where is it different from the 2016 plan and specifically what the Navy is planning to do to help fund that plan," Wittman said.

"I've called for the Navy to point out where they're going to be a partner in this, where they're going to find savings."

Top Navy and Defense Department leaders have envisioned a future fleet that is a mix of manned and unmanned ships. Wittman agrees, but says there needs to be specific planning.

"What's going to happen with the unmanned component? How do we integrate all of that? How do we fund that not just in the next five years, but how do we find that in the long term? How do we make sure that we are making that commitment that's necessary," Wittman asked.

Wittman says he's heartened by a focus on increased submarine building, especially with the impact that has on Newport News Shipbuilding, a partner in the current programs.

"It is, I think, if not the most, one of the most important platforms in the entire United States Navy. It's where we have undersea strike superiority and it's where we can counter our adversaries in a way that imposes risks upon them, which is what we need to do, and also imposes additional cost upon them, which if we're going to prevail in this strategic back and forth, we have to do both."

He also says the focus on shoring up the logistics fleet will be critical to supporting the future Naval fleet.

The Navy is looking to build the Next-Generation Logistics Ship as a medium-sized at-sea resupply ship.